baking

A look back: September 2020

I'm constantly wondering how this space will evolve and maybe one day eventually end.
social medias have taken over because its faster, more to the point and honestly easier to engage with people on. 

who reads blogs still anyways? I'm not even a real blogger.

but still I always find myself wanting to capture, reflect and share parts of my little life. I'm a Virgo who likes words too. I enjoy instagram and do not use facebook but even that hasn't very enjoyable for me lately. . I usually over think these blog posts and would never even dream to use iPhone 11 photos. but 2020 has been rough for everyone so I am going with the casual approach because I can’t think of the last time I picked up my DSLR.

I have two recipes I want share but right now I thought I'd go with a September (mostly food) photo recap.. birth month wasn't the worst even though yes, we are still very much in the weirds (pandemic).


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THE  cheesiest, smoothest mashed potatoes, one beautifully poached egg  + toasted baguette slices were out of this world. the crispy potatoes are a must, trust me.

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Egg Sammie. 

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my peanutella + PB n’ J cookies travelled (frozen) to a different state but of course I needed to do a taste test bake. delish, and peanut butter cookies aren’t even in the top five for me.

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A LOT of avocado toast this month.

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surprise doughnut delivery from my favorite person..

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thai tea brûlée slush from Tea Maison


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Chinatown adventures. what’s your favorite treat at 85°? I ADORE their egg tarts but I always pick up something new with each visit.

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special birthday delivery from a special friend who understands my deep love for cookies + Christina Tosi. 

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day/night lewks.

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throughly obsessed with the short rib fried rice fried from Le Thai.

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downtown (mild) shenanigans.

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coffee + cake (buttermilk blueberry lemon breakfast cake. recipe coming!)

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kale caesar salad with salmon + homemade sourdough croutons. SUPER yum and definitely would repeat this first time meal. I used Shutterbean’s recipes as a guideline for the Caesar salad dressing & croutons.

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told you.

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What a trip to the Korean grocery store looks like. I love Asian snacks everything.

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homemade monggo with chicharron + shrimp. one of my Filipino favorites! I’m so happy to have an adaptable recipe that is so super easy to make. doesn’t even take long to cook and keeps extremely well in the fridge for leftovers.

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work is easier with cookies.

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mr mama’s breakfast outing. happy birthday Sam.

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furry friend round up!

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super cute lunch date at Sweet Honey Dessert + a quick pit stop to Tea Maison.

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lobster balls (and other snack use) from Easy Life.


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breakfast fried rice. the best way to use leftover rice! garlic, bacon, egg + green onion. staple in my house.

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chicken salad for easy workday lunches. deboned a hatch green chile rotisserie chicken from Sprouts added mayo, salt n’ spice, diced red onion + lemon juice.

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last September I had a wedge salad at Flemings, changed my life and never looked back. I think I ate like 6 wedge salads this past month.
iceberg lettuce + halved cherry tomatoes + crispy bacon + blue cheese crumbles + sliced red onion + blue cheese dressing. pro tip, salt and a splash of red wine vinegar on the sliced onions.

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September 2020 was challenging, like how I said earlier this whole year has been. I guess I don’t need to really remind anyone of that. we’ve all been experiencing our own battles and a couple of shared ones. stress & anxiety might be running high but this is my reminder to stop and have some conscious gratitude for the positive moments in life. it can be alarmingly easy to lose yourself when things are harder but there is a ton love when you pay attention. 

maybe that’s what this space is going to be for, a reminder to pay attention. 

be kind to yourself, god knows I’m trying.

- rita 

 


recipe box : petite lemon cookies

Lemon

i haven't always been a fan of lemony desserts.

lemon cookies, squares, tarts and cakes definitely did not make an appearance in my filipino mom's kitchen growing up. in fact the only real memories i have were seeing rows and rows of plated lemon meringue pie at the dessert bar in casino buffets. when you're a kid in vegas everything at a dessert bar is spectacular but i always ended up with something chocolaty or creating a very overloaded ice cream sundae making sure to use ALL available toppings, including the whipped cream! you can't forget the whipped cream.

in recent years though, i have come to truly enjoy lemon baked goods. i'm delightfully surprised that i grew into this newly acquired taste but it has a lot to do with how lucky i have been to have tasted properly prepared citrus desserts that were created with a lot of careful and deliberate thought. 

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this recipe, however, does not require a whole lot of thought. it's a pretty reliable straight forward type of cookie. no games!

i realize i often gravitate towards creating (and eating) baked goods that are more on the sturdy side and even though they are petite these babies are no exception. a cookie that'd hold up well if you packed them to go along for a picnic or my personal favorite.. sneaking them into a movie.

a little secret trick i learned, now i do this as often as possible when working with any citrus fruit, is to combine the sugar in the recipe with the zest. in this case, its lemon zest but doing this small extra step is really beneficial to the overall finished product and allows for a more full bodied flavor. 

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i can't wait to keep finding things that make me change my mind about a preconceived preference or way of thinking i have had. its refreshing to know you can always learn new things, you can always change your mind..you can always continue to grow. that's kind of some of the best parts about life. if you think something is permanent, it's not or at least it doesn't have to be if you allow yourself to keep an open mind. 

i love recipe sharing, if there are any links or personal favs of some lemony baked goods that make your heart feel good.. hmu

until then..

happy eating!

xo

rita

 

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Petite Lemon Cookies


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c butter, room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 3/4 C sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest

INSTRUCTIONS

  • in a medium bowl

    1. sift together the flour, salt, baking powder & baking soda
  • in a small bowl

    1. combine the lemon zest with the sugar. using a fork, press the lemon zest into the sugar until it becomes fragrant and changes color.
  • in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment

    1. mix butter and lemon sugar for 2-3 minutes on medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
    2. add eggs, lemon juice, and both extracts, mix for 4-5 minutes on medium to high speed until light and fluffy.
    3. slowly add the dry ingredients in 3 separate increments, mix on low speed until just incorporated.
  • using a small ice cream scoop

    1. (i use a 1.6" wide sized scoop)
    2. scoop cookie dough into small balls, place them onto a parchment lined cooking sheet and slightly press down on each dough ball. make sure to leave about an inch of space between each dough ball.
  • in preheated 350° oven

    1. bake for 12-14 minutes, the centers should still be soft when you remove the cookies from the oven.

recipe box : brown butter mochiko cake

Cover

if i'm home on a lazy sunday, this happens most often around 4 or 5pm, more than likely i am in yoga pants and have probably been hanging out with netflix for more than a few hours. deep down i know i should be planning dinner but why lie to myself I have dessert brain and the cake fever can set it in suspiciously fast.

i find myself needing cake like i mean r e a l l y NEED it. 

doesn't have to be a whole dang cake but come on.. we are making a whole cake because that's what we do here. on the general i'm not picky about my sunday cake. i'll settle for a slice of whatever and most definitely a cupcake would do. chocolate buttermilk ? dare i mention red velvet.. that's not still a thing right? (for me it always will be a thing) carrot cake.. yep, that could be good. 

all cakes welcome.

i'll look through my pantry to see what i have to work with.. flours, powders, sugars. peek in the fridge.. sticks of butter? any leftover buttermilk? i hope i have an egg or two. cocoa powder? oh, chocolate chips.. i could melt those. hrm.. ideas.

when i find a box of sweet rice flour tucked away my go-to is this mochiko cake recipe. my mom has been making a version of this cake ever since i was little so to me it tastes like home but this isn't my mama's recipe.

brown butter will be the secret, not so secret weapon.

Ingredients

mochiko- that's a fun word. if you think it might have something to do with mochi you wouldn't be wrong.

this sweet rice flour is used in a multitude of filipino, thai and other asian desserts. a unique squishy texture since sweet rice is a sticky glutinous rice you'll usually find it has a nice chew to it.

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although it is sort of deceiving, sweet (glutinous) rice flour is actually, ahem.. GLUTEN FREE! it really refers to that lovely chewy texture i was talking about.

tricky tricky.

wheat and i still get a long but it's good to have a few recipes to count on for friends and family that are intolerant to the gluten.

let's get started!

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first thing we need to do is brown that butter and give it a chance to cool. grab a small light metal colored pan or pot and brown baby brown over low heat. you'll hear crackles and pops, once you see brown golden flecks and your kitchen smells like heaven you'll know it's ready.

you could also go the christina tosi method and brown butter in the microwave. if you have ever burned your butter on the stove top you should give this method a try. it is almost impossible to burn butter using a microwave so the odds will forever be in your favor.

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let's gather the dry ingredients.

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while the butter is browning, whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.

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transfer the brown butter into the mixer bowl and let cool.

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pure magic right there. heart eyes so hard!

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sugah sugah.

once the butter has cooled, mix in the sugar. 

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it should still have a coarse yet creamy consistency. warning the smell will be super intoxicating. 

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crack a couple eggs and mix together.

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scrape down the mixing bowl when necessary.

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i like to add the eggs in batches, it incorporates more consistently together this way.

lots of eggs in this cake recipe!

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mix thoroughly.

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don't forget the vanilla extract (splurge on the good stuff to boost the flavor, you won't regret it)

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now to alternate between wet and dry ingredients.

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you want to start with the dry ingredients.

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mix for a short time.

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then slowly add the coconut milk.

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keep working back and forth between the two until you've used up both sets of materials.

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make sure to finish with the dry ingredients.

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prepare your baking dish. i used an old casserole dish that belongs to my mom but you can use a pyrex or just a regular 9x13 cake sheet. seriously though..bouncy cake is around the corner.

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 pour the mochiko cake batter into the prepared baking dish, make sure to get it ALL!

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pop the cake into a preheated 350° oven and set a timer for 60 minutes.

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we'll leave the dirty dishes for the cleaning fairies.

where's that cake?!

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oh, there you are.

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hello beautiful.

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spongy, dense with a slight chew.

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this is such a great lowkey sunday cake. super easy, minimal but with a slightly elevated flavor and texture combination. let's not forget that this is also accidentally gluten free, fear not my gluten intolerant folks.

i hope this cake goes good with your netflix weekend, happy eating!

xox

rita

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brown butter mochiko cake

sweet sticky rice flour cake.


 

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 (16oz) box mochiko sweet rice flour
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 C butter, browned
    • 2 C sugar
    • 5 eggs
    • 1 (13.5oz) can of coconut milk

INSTRUCTIONS

    1. brown the butter, set aside & let cool.
  • dry ingredients - medium bowl

    1. combine mochiko flour, salt, baking powder and set aside.
  • mixer bowl using the paddle attachment

    1. mix the cooled brown butter with sugar until fully incorporated (2-3 minutes)
    2. add the eggs in batches, scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
    3. mix in the vanilla extract.
    4. start incorporating a little of the dry ingredients, next add a little coconut milk, alternate between these two and finish with the dry ingredients.
    5. mix until the streaks of flour are gone.
    6. pour cake batter into a prepared baking dish and bake in a preheated 350° oven for an hour.

recipe box: citrus bundt cake

Orange bundt
most hopes come with the best intentions. it starts with a dream or idea that you can't shake off and you decide you must have it. the longer you think about it the more you want it and so you make a plan. put pencil to paper and start jotting down notes and building the pathway to what you want that keeps itching at you. even though it scares you, you put yourself in motion and start gathering what you need. preparing. with each action you trustingly get closer and closer to bringing that dream of yours to fruition.

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baking absolutely like that. particularly to me and i'm sure to some of you out there too.

just a tasty idea itching to be brought to life at the back of your brain.

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for me there is always a strategy, a list of ingredients, the proper preparations and precautions.

everything in there places please.

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its a dream so you went an extra step, always trying to make it that much more special.

you can make sugar more special.. use a fork to mix it with citrus zest - ooh la la. for this bundt cake i went for the hat-trick and used orange, lemon AND lime. whoa.. i know. being bold is necessary though.

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see ..how magical?

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sometimes the most important is laying out the proper groundwork ..its totally the most important part. remember this part.

grease, flour and prep every nook of your pan. not kidding, do it right.

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your work is done, you've put in the effort and you're almost at that finish line that you've been envisioning.

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and then you fall flat on your face..

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sometimes things turn out ugly and get messy - all your hard work feels wasted and you can't help but feel defeated.

the only thing left to do is scrape together the pieces of yourself and try again. find a new method, take a moment and learn from what happened.

but there are also always new dreams to dream too.

life isn't always pretty but it's worth a try every time. when you expect something to go one way and it doesn't that's when you have to remember that the crumbs are just as scrumptious as the whole cake.

xox

rita

Orange bundt (11 of 11)

 

Citrus Bundt Cake

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Ingredients

    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 5 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • dry ingredients

    • 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
    • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
  • infused sugars

    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 2 tbsp orange zest
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
    • 1/2 tbsp lime zest

 

Instructions

  • in 2 separate small bowls

    1. using a fork mix together lime & lemon zest into first cup of sugar until it becomes extremely fragrant. repeat process with second cup of sugar and the orange zest.
  • in a kitchen aid stand mixer with a paddle attachment

    1. blend olive oil with both infused sugars. add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl each time. add orange juice and continue to mix for 4 mins. slowly add dry ingredients until just incorporated.
  • preheat oven to 375

    1. greasing the bundt pan is super important, make sure to get in every nook and cranny. a little extra flour to help do the job.
    2. bake for 1 hour to an hour and 15 mins. clean toothpick test!



 

 


twelve.

Day 12 (1 of 3)

cookies on their way in!

if there wasn't an oven and a few baking sheets some how involved in my portrait challenge it would've been a huge mistake. i spend a lot of time with my oven.

recently i have been spending A LOT of time with cookie dough though. trying and making things happen from the very very beginning is exciting and nerve racking. the Sugar Ration is coming.

Day 12 (2 of 3)

these are peanut butter and jelly cookies and they are becoming quite the fan favorite.

want to try one?

okay maybe i do have another brown shirt, but it doesn't count if it's exactly the same as the other one.

what's in your oven?

xox

rita

Day 12 (3 of 3)


recipe box: olive oil carrot cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting

Carrotcake 1st

I know its not quite yet fall but for me it so totally is.

my birthday is september 1st and as far as i'm concerned its now time to shift the brain into fall mode. which just so happens to my absolute favorite season.

best temperature, best clothing options, and another change of the food season. food sure as hell have seasons.

one of the simple things that helps me kick start fall is getting to enjoy the return of the pumpkin spice lattes! i know its silly, but its the little things that really count. granted it still is a little warm outside, like low 90s warm but that's not going to stop me from ordering my pumpkin spice latte every damn birthday. and thanks to my starbucks gold card that latte is usually free. sigh, i love september-so good. this most recent birthday i was especially lucky with an overcast rainy morning, thanks for help setting the mood.

but before we go getting full pumpkin crazy, because i get it.. i'm a little early excited. i thought we could ease in to this amazing season with a spiced carrot cake. that's it ..we're just slowly dipping our toes in.

change is best served with cake.

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caution juicing can lead to dessert:

juicing is wonderful and its something i think i'm still fairly new to but really want to be better at. the only problem is they don't mention the part where when you juice for too long you may have pastry daydreams. like a real giant case of the cake crazies. you think you're totally fine enjoying your yummy fresh juice cocktails feeling all healthy and then bam! it just happens. full on carb hallucination.

for me it happened when i was cleaning out my juicer after making a generous amount of pressed carrot juice and there was all this leftover carrot pulp and what? all this orange goodness was just going to go in the trash?

uh hell no, that's going in a CAKE!

and that's when i started gathering ingredients.

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i opted to switch things up and use olive oil for slight flavor change. apple sauce helps keep the cake moist.

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sifting together your dry ingredients keeps things lighter. these spices are really going to remind you of the holidays ..but just a little. baby steps.

image from www.ritabakez.com

most carrot cakes have raisins and walnuts, but we're not doing that. this just isn't that kind of cake. instead we're using sweet coconut shreds and dried cranberries with the perfect amount of tartness.

because this carrot pulp came from my juicer, i did add 1/3 cup of juice back in to increase the moisture level a tad. with grating carrots you wouldn't need to do this step.

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action shot.

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properly preparing your cake pans is super important. don't let all of your work and promising batter go to waste because of an under greased pan. i used parchment paper but enough butter/crisco with a generous sprinkling flour should usually do the trick.

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be fair and even.

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clean toothpick ready from the oven and now the cakes need to relax and cool.

meanwhile we start the frosting.

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i have been trying to think of a reason to explain why brown butter? but i just keep thinking always.. always brown butter. when in doubt brown butter it out. it seriously is a flavor secret weapon and now you all know if you didn't before. and also know that i'm going to keep talking about it too.

i have made a lot of different frosting but this one easily makes my top 3 favorite, it's goood.

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once you have removed the fully cooled cakes flip them so that you have a nice flat surface when you begin frosting.

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with a two layer cake i stick with a 60/40 frosting ratio, using most of the frosting on the bottom cake and mid section. then finish with the remaining on the second cake, remember flat side up!

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fully frosted.

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and just like that you have cake.

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i hope you feel a little better about saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall.

should you be juicing and daydream of cake, know you are not alone. it happens.

xox

rita

 

*Recipe*

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olive oil carrot cake

olive oil carrot cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting

Active Time
40 minutes
Total Time
1 hour 15 mins
 

 

Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 cup apple sauce
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup shredded coconut
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 2 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • in a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients, set aside

    • 1 cup all purpose flour sifted with,
    • 1 1/2 cup cake flour
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 1 tsp all spice
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
  • for the frosting

    • 1/2 cup brown butter, cooled
    • 1/2 butter, softened
    • 1 8oz cream cheese, softened
    • 2 16oz packages powder sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Instructions

  • for the carrot cake batter

  • in a kitchen stand mixer with a paddle attachment

    1. use both brown & white sugar mix with olive oil and mix together on medium speed for 3 mins, scrape down sides. add eggs and vanilla extract and continue to blend together for 3-5 mins. add shredded carrots in batches until fully incorporated. with mixer on lowest setting add dry ingredients slowly until a few white streaks remain, add apple sauce. with a spatula by hand fold in shredded coconut and dried cranberries.
  • for the brown butter cream cheese frosting

  • in a kitchen stand mixer with a paddle attachment

    1. with the mixer on medium to high speed blend together brown butter, butter and cream cheese. scrape down sides when necessary and mix for 2 mins and add vanilla extract. continue mixer until fully incorporated about another 3 mins. with the mixer on low slowly add powder sugar in small batches. as you add more sugar frosting consistency will become much firmer.
  • for cakes

  • preheat oven to 350°

    1. in two 8" round cake pans prepare for baking by greasing pans with butter. next line with circular cutouts of parchment paper and sprinkle with a tsp of all purpose flour, remove excess flour if needed.
    2. separate cake batter evenly between two prepared round cake pans. bake for 37-42 mins, until you can insert a toothpick and remove clean.
    3. once both cakes have completely cooled frost the layered cake using the brown butter cream cheese frosting.

recipe box: blueberry scones with lemon glaze

Blueberry Scones (11 of 12)
even though the weather in Vegas still says summer, my brain (and taste buds) are fully ready to jump into fall. i can't wait for long sleeves, warm cable knit knee highs, blankets, soup, and all the holiday fun getting ready to happen again.

i have a whole list of fall cooking & baking ideas that are meant for making chilly days cozy and am looking forward to sharing them!

since breakfast is the first and my most favorite meal of the day it's great place to start off my fall foods.

let's prepare to get sconed and grab our ingredients!

Blueberry Scones (2 of 12)taking a closer look.

Blueberry Scones (1 of 12)

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blueberry scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold + cut in chunks

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

in a large bowl mix all of your dry ingredients together. flour, baking powder, sugar, & salt.

Blueberry Scone collage

1. with 2 knives or a pastry blender cut the butter into the dry ingredients to coat the pieces with flour. the mixture should look like coarse crumbs.

2. fold the blueberries into the batter. take care not the mash the blueberries to avoid color bleed into the dough.

3. make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. fold everything together just to incorporate.

Blueberry scone collage2

preheat oven to 375. press dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. place scones on an un greased cookie sheet or a baking stone and brush the top with a little heavy cream. bake for 15 - 20 minutes until beautifully browned. 

while the scones bake away you can get your lemon glaze ready

..shall we?

Blueberry Scones (7 of 12)

lemon glaze

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cups powder sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 lemon zest finely grated

1-2 tablespoons of water


Blueberry Scones (8 of 12)

the easiest way to do this is in a large microwave proof bowl, whisk powder sugar + lemon juice then heat until dissolved. whisk in the butter + lemon zest and re heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. use a little extra water if your glaze feels too thick.

Blueberry Scones (10 of 12)

when the scones have comepletly cooled cut into triangle pieces. finish by drizzling the lemon glaze over the tops.. be as generous as you'd like!

Blueberry Scones (12 of 12)

here's wishing you spend many fall mornings getting sconed with some coffee!

 

xox

rita

*this recipe was adapted from Tyler Florence*